Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon is being urged by the bosses of 100 hotels to make immediate changes to new Covid-19 measures imposed last Friday.
The hotels, which include Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire and Prestonfield House In Edinburgh, warn that the rules, which ban the sale of alcohol in public areas to hotel guests, will lead to thousands of job losses because of a damaging drop in revenues.
The stricter rules mean that all pubs and restaurants in the central belt of Scotland, including Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley, have had to close both indoors and outdoors until October 25. Licensed premises can still serve takeaways.
Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in the rest of Scotland will not be allowed to serve alcohol indoors and can only be open between 6am and 6pm for food and non-alcoholic drinks.
Hotels can still serve evening meals to residents but not with alcohol.
Jill Chalmers, managing director of Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire, who is spearheading the immediate call for change, said in the letter: “Not being able to sell alcohol in public areas to hotel residents in Scotland negatively impacts their stay and future guests are already starting to cancel their bookings.
“This measure in particular is threatening the small thread of revenue – a lifeline for many – which still exists for hotel businesses in Scotland at this difficult time.
“We urge you to reconsider this and allow hotel guests, staying a minimum of one night, to consume alcohol in all settings, not simply room service alone. In addition, we believe that we should be able to serve non-residents until 6pm, as a café is allowed to do.
“If there is no change, we have no doubt that we will suffer deeper losses. We are talking about trying to survive, not about profitability. Without this small change in your policy, there will be thousands more job losses in the coming month.”
Under the new rules, wedding parties already booked in at hotels are able to consume alcohol. But non-wedding guests nearby, staying under the same roof, are unable to.
Jill Chalmers added: “You can imagine the pressure on hotel staff, and the potential threats they might face, having to negotiate with different guests over the measures.
“It is unreasonable to expect staff to deal with this especially if guests try and join the wedding groups in order to drink alcohol.”
Ms Sturgeon said: “These measures still allow for some social contact in cafes during the day. And they do not prevent people from taking half-term holidays which have already been booked, or from going ahead with weddings which have already been planned.
“But for a period of just over two weeks, they will remove some of the major opportunities the virus has to spread. That should have a significant impact on transmission rates.”
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